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View Full Version : Why the price difference from 4X5 to larger sized Formats???



audioexcels
31-Dec-2007, 11:39
I have never understood this one at all:

Why does it cost, as an example with Chamonix, 3X the price to purchase their 5X8 camera that doesn't even rotate vertically??? Not all manufacturers are like this, but many are. What gives? You have a little more wood, a little more metal, a few bits here and there, but in the end, I don't see where the money is going...In other words, say one argues that the 5X7 is twice as large as the 4X5, therefore costing twice as much. But in actual materials and labor, the difference is way off. There is no way on any planet materials suddenly rise double what they cost for the smaller camera. Obviously, it must go into other considerations, such as a lower market interest, hence, a more specialized product.

I know there's the building process of every camera, so each specific camera receives its own build and own treatment...This leaves only the cost of materials.

Can anyone provide a legit reason why, aside from the masses wanting 4X5 over 5X7/8X10/etc., that a larger camera costs double and sometimes more than twice the amount of the 4X5?

Songyun
31-Dec-2007, 11:41
demand?

davidb
31-Dec-2007, 11:46
I've always wanted a 5x7.

The Chamonix 4x5 is such a great little camera that I would love
to buy their 5x8 if it had a 5x7 back. But at $2300, I just won't do it
especially since their 8x10 is only $100 more (or something like that).

So, if the Chamonix 4x5 costs $700, why can't the 5x8 be $1500 ?

If it was $1500 ($100 more than the Shen-Hao FCL57-A (http://www.shen-hao.com/E57512.html)) I would buy it
and I suspect it would sell as well "here" as the 45N-1.

David Karp
31-Dec-2007, 11:52
In addition to demand, design time for one thing. Even if you just scale everything up, you have to draw it up (even on the computer), and then make sure everything works properly. This is time away from making other cameras, making photos, or just having fun doing something else.

Then you also consider the market. What is everyone else charging? If you think you can make the camera for a lot less, will lowering the price a lot increase the amount of sales enough to bring in more money overall? Maybe you can make as much money by selling fewer cameras at a higher price.

Nick_3536
31-Dec-2007, 11:56
If you compare the Shen Hao 4x5 with the bigger cameras it's more then just a little bigger.

But the main reason is likely the size of the production run. You can run a lot more 4x5 cameras and expect to sell them then any other format.

In a way this is why reducing backs are such great deals for both sides. Building a back is a lot easier/cheaper then a whole new line of cameras.

John Bowen
31-Dec-2007, 12:01
I'm sure the cost of the bellows has a lot to do with the price differential

davidb
31-Dec-2007, 12:04
From Badger's website:

ebony - $4400 - $5700
shen-hao - $1400
Tachihara $1400
Walker $2300
Canham $2550

So if the Cham was about $1500 to $1750 it would make a killing.

The 4x5 is a well built and designed camera.

Their 5x8 is already designed and being made. All they need is a 5x7 back so that
we can get film for it.

The Shen-Hao FCL57a has the same design as the Cham.

Daniel_Buck
31-Dec-2007, 12:04
It sounds like you have answered your own question. It's probably a bit more than cost of materials. There probably aren't as many 5x7 cameras made, so they are more 'specialized' than the more common 4x5 models.

The company has to make money! If people are willing to pay 3x the 4x5 price for a 5x7, then why not sell them at the higher price? I would.

audioexcels
31-Dec-2007, 12:14
In addition to demand, design time for one thing. Even if you just scale everything up, you have to draw it up (even on the computer), and then make sure everything works properly. This is time away from making other cameras, making photos, or just having fun doing something else.

Then you also consider the market. What is everyone else charging? If you think you can make the camera for a lot less, will lowering the price a lot increase the amount of sales enough to bring in more money overall? Maybe you can make as much money by selling fewer cameras at a higher price.


Right, but the designing of the 4X5 should be no different than the 5X7. In other words, it should be just as difficult to design a 4X5 as it is a 5X7 unless you do not know what you are doing.

But I think it has most everything to do with the small market for something other than a 4X5, though maybe there would be an equal market if manufacturers could somehow make things more competitive.

I didn't mean to pick out Chamonix and hope people read that I mentioned "other manufacturers". I just picked something quick off the top of my head because I know their 4X5 is delicious, but the 5X8 is as mentioned, $100 difference in price from an 8X10 (IMHO, it's silly not to shoot 5X8 with an 8X10 camera that is only a bit more weight to carry around, and only $100 more).

Nick_3536
31-Dec-2007, 12:17
I think you've got it a bit backward.

The 5x8 is a one off basically. A small market item.

The 8x10 is more off the shelf.

It makes sense the 5x8 costs closer to the 8x10. The same way 4x10 cameras often cost closer to an 8x10 then the size might indicate.

Dave Parker
31-Dec-2007, 12:20
It all comes down to supply and demand, the demand on 5x7 is much lower than 4x5, if your going to make all three formats, you factor in the amount of profit you can make then apply to the cost of manufacture as well as return on your investment and apply that to the number of units you will guesstimate you will sell, then take a look at the existing market and what is selling and come up with a price. Also, the cost of a bellows for a 5x7 is larger than the cost for a set of 4x5 bellows...but most of all, it is what the market will bear!

Dave

davidb
31-Dec-2007, 12:25
Chamonix 5x8 on ebay with holders. (http://cgi.ebay.com/New-5x8in-view-camera-with-2-holders-made-by-Chamonix_W0QQitemZ120157425145QQihZ002QQcategoryZ15248QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem)

Let's see if it sells.

Michael Graves
31-Dec-2007, 12:26
I've always wanted a 5x7.

The Chamonix 4x5 is such a great little camera that I would love
to buy their 5x8 if it had a 5x7 back. But at $2300, I just won't do it
especially since their 8x10 is only $100 more (or something like that).

So, if the Chamonix 4x5 costs $700, why can't the 5x8 be $1500 ?

If it was $1500 ($100 more than the Shen-Hao FCL57-A (http://www.shen-hao.com/E57512.html)) I would buy it
and I suspect it would sell as well "here" as the 45N-1.

I wouldn't spend a hundred bucks more. I've seen the Shen Hao and it is a beautifully crafted piece of equipment. I can't see needing anything more. Spend your money with the company that is willing to keep the price down.

Nick_3536
31-Dec-2007, 12:33
Chamonix 5x8 on ebay with holders. (http://cgi.ebay.com/New-5x8in-view-camera-with-2-holders-made-by-Chamonix_W0QQitemZ120157425145QQihZ002QQcategoryZ15248QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem)

Let's see if it sells.

If it doesn't they'll relist it. :p Isn't that how they run their shop on Ebay?

Lets see if they sell so many they come out with a whole 5x8 line.

davidb
31-Dec-2007, 12:35
From the above mentioned auction

"Up for auction is a new original creating 5x8 wooden view camera made by Chamonix,absolutely real beauty & pretty looking ,stongly lightly and compactly,very good rapid field large format camera."

rippo
31-Dec-2007, 12:39
those using formats larger than 4x5 tend to have deeper pockets (at least for camera equipment, if not in general). so they'll get charged more. if you're willing to deal with the hassle and cost of whole plate or even 8x10 as compared to 4x5 when it comes to film selection etc, then you're also more likely to be the sort of person to drop $5k on a large format camera. you are an Enthu$iast.

nobody much brags about a 4x5. however anything bigger has a certain snob appeal. you can see it on this site even, although it's usually kept veiled. "i only shoot 8x10 and larger", that sort of thing. or "it's no good unless you can contact-print with it", or "you just don't get the same highlight glow with anything smaller than 8x10" etc. it's a bit like owning a Lotus or Maibach...it does you no good if you can't talk about it.

those who are willing to pay for the bragging rights are charged accordingly.

but also what others have said, namely design and production costs being much more significant than the actual material cost of the camera. which is a good thing, otherwise we'd all be selling fine art prints for $1 each.

Rafael Garcia
31-Dec-2007, 14:01
Rippo:

I beg to disagree with you. I started in 5x7 because I found a $300.00 used outfit. Not having to use an enlarger was a second factor in going larger than 4x5. It is the opposite of what you say: the investment costs of 5x7 are lower for starting out, and not really much higher going on if you make your own stuff. I made my 5x7 enlarger, eventually, and spent around $150.00 including lenses to do it. Nowdays I shoot both 4x5 and 5x7 because I can enlarge 4x5 with my homebuilt. To shoot 4x5 I made a back for my camera, I didn't buy a new one.

Yes, there is snobbism amongst us. It has more to do with the conversation between professionals who use the best equipment because their livelyhood hangs in the balance, and amateurs who aspire to such equipment without needing it. Those are the ones that will buy to impress, themselves, and others. Format size has little to do with it. It's brand names they flaunt.

I am quite happy with my old cameras. They do all I need them to do. And yes, I vastly prefer 5x7 to 4x5. It is a much better negative. I don't have deep pockets, but I make do with what I have. It did not cost me more than a 4x5 setup.







those using formats larger than 4x5 tend to have deeper pockets (at least for camera equipment, if not in general). so they'll get charged more. if you're willing to deal with the hassle and cost of whole plate or even 8x10 as compared to 4x5 when it comes to film selection etc, then you're also more likely to be the sort of person to drop $5k on a large format camera. you are an Enthu$iast.

nobody much brags about a 4x5. however anything bigger has a certain snob appeal. you can see it on this site even, although it's usually kept veiled. "i only shoot 8x10 and larger", that sort of thing. or "it's no good unless you can contact-print with it", or "you just don't get the same highlight glow with anything smaller than 8x10" etc. it's a bit like owning a Lotus or Maibach...it does you no good if you can't talk about it.

those who are willing to pay for the bragging rights are charged accordingly.

but also what others have said, namely design and production costs being much more significant than the actual material cost of the camera. which is a good thing, otherwise we'd all be selling fine art prints for $1 each.

rippo
31-Dec-2007, 14:19
i take back my comments. they were unnecessarily confrontational. i think i'm just grumpy this morning. please disregard.

Rafael Garcia
31-Dec-2007, 14:27
Been there...done that! Peace.

Rafael

Songyun
31-Dec-2007, 17:29
Right, but the designing of the 4X5 should be no different than the 5X7. In other words, it should be just as difficult to design a 4X5 as it is a 5X7 unless you do not know what you are doing.

But I think it has most everything to do with the small market for something other than a 4X5, though maybe there would be an equal market if manufacturers could somehow make things more competitive.

I didn't mean to pick out Chamonix and hope people read that I mentioned "other manufacturers". I just picked something quick off the top of my head because I know their 4X5 is delicious, but the 5X8 is as mentioned, $100 difference in price from an 8X10 (IMHO, it's silly not to shoot 5X8 with an 8X10 camera that is only a bit more weight to carry around, and only $100 more).
you should check the price of Ebony WP and 410 and 617 and compare them with Ebony 45.

Nathan Potter
31-Dec-2007, 17:56
After reading the above posts and having a few brandy alexanders my mind has cleared and perhaps I've stumbled on the answer (or maybe on my feet)! But perhaps as the volume of the camera increases (roughly as the cube of the radius - I know it's not a sphere) the price will increase as the cube. As alluded to above the bellows could be significant but overall the bed and the front and rear standards also scale up.

Nate Potter

Bruce Barlow
1-Jan-2008, 07:08
Bellows costs are huge, and the bigger the bellows, the greater the cost. And as a manufacturer, you farm out bellows because they're awful to make well.

A huge chunk of the manufacturing cost differences are in the setups, which in small runs can take longer than running the parts through. Lots of parts, lots of setups to make them, often lots of tooling. If you run 100, you spread setups and tooling over 100. If you run 10, it's the same setup, but spread less. Lots more cost.

In the late 80's we were doing "batches" of 250 Zone VI 4x5s at a time. Richard Ritter ordered parts 1,000 at a time. We'd have bins of assembled fronts, backs, rails, beds, etc. More bins of screws, inserts, washers, slides, and so forth. An inventory control nightmare. 348 parts per camera.

Richard, genius that he is, would get us each assembling 250 of something at a time so we were efficient, and practiced. Quality was better, waste was less. We needed a lot of space to store stuff, especially as we got a lot built. There was 7 hours of labor to build a 4x5 (that was my job to calculate), and we ended up, at times, finishing and shipping 20 a day. We did 40 one day catching up on backorders, and had a party, but it was 40 because that's the way it worked out with pre-assembling stuff.

By the way, we couldn't have done it without Phil, a retired HS woodworking teacher, and Forrest, a retired machinist, I think. Their wives threw them out of the house to come work for us because retirement was driving the women crazy. They worked like dogs, cared about quality, and always were coming up with great ideas. The greatest generation, and they were fine examples.

When we started the 8x10, we ordered 150 sets of parts (costing about $150,000 that we didn't have). We built 50 at a time (not 250), and it was a nerve-wracking experience because we were new to 8x10, and scared to mar any part to make it unusable, especially the wood. Ordering 150 is radically more expensive than ordering 1,000 per-unit, driving up total materials cost substantially. Labor was more for us assembling, but not enough to worry about.

And as Bob Ostrow used to remind us, there were 348 parts in each camera. If you only had 347 parts, you didn't have a camera to sell. We'll just skip the part about unreliable suppliers who don't send you the 348th part on time, if at all, since it's too painful to recall.

Ah, the good old days - not.

Richard and I had a long conversation about whether he should make 15 or 25 ULF rail beds and fronts in his initial run (he more or less makes the backs to order - 7x17 through 20x24). The unit cost to him for 25 was much less than 15, but he had to have the cash to buy the parts, and we mused about whether the entire world of ULF users could fit in his small living room as we evaluated risk and reward. They won't fit because it has ULF assemblies stacked here and there taking up space. But it was illuminating to me that there was enough difference between 15 and 25 to matter.

New bigger cameras cost bigger money for good reasons.

Richard and I will soon have the discussion about the inital run of 4x5 thru 8x10 beds and fronts, if he gets off his (censored) and makes the prototypes! While I have no financial interest in Richard's camera manufacturing, I want one ASAP. Hear that, Richard?? I'm goading you publicly again!

RichardRitter
1-Jan-2008, 10:05
Bruce forgot about the other cost to building a camera the design, engineering and finding the right suppliers and materials. As he said there is 300 plus parts to a camera figure about 10-hour pre part and some parts up to 25 hours to find a supplier. Look at the guy that copied a Wisner camera he had 250 hours in just reverse engineering the camera to make drawings. If you start from a clean sheet of paper and the object is to design out some of the problems a field camera has and to make it stronger, more versatile and reliable multiply the 250 hours by 5 for design time and add more hours for prototyping and testing.

Then there is the up front cost of custom tooling and in most cases the tooling for a 5 x 7 camera will not work on a 5 x 8 camera. Which on a small run the tooling that would have been made to save time is not made which leads to more and longer set up times.

Material that goes into the making of a camera. Look at the Phillips camera there were years of time and research in the materials that went into the making of his camera. Yes it is easy to reverse engineer the camera, its what under the fancy wrap that may be an important part of the camera and over looked. Ah itís just a piece of fiberboard with a nice covering. Not all fiberboards are the same. Cheap materials tend to fail sooner, are harder to repair, in most cases cost more to repair and could be toxic.

Nathan Potter
1-Jan-2008, 13:41
Aaah, now that my brandy alexanders have worn off I can think less clearly again. I'm glad that Bruce and Richard have chimed in with real experience in manufacturing small runs of LF machines. Their comments are pretty exact analogues of the problems I used to have doing small custom runs of MMIC power amplifiers for specialized military use. The issue is less with the parts as you see them in finished form but much more with the difficulty in finding the components and getting them correctly in house. Not to mention an entirely new design from scratch then fabricated in a relatively small run. And no money is collected unless each unit is essentially perfect - and sold.

Nate Potter

LFdelux
1-Jan-2008, 20:25
Sure, the bellows is bigger and the glass is larger but why the HUGE differential remains to be answered? Workers get paid the same per hour, the warehouse paid by the 4x5 cameras, staff is already on hand, and the sales channels already opened - except for materials, the overhead is virtually the same. Having said this, i would imagine sales are 12:1. Thus ULF have to sit on the shelf longer before being sold and this costs more than a few schillings.

John Bowen
2-Jan-2008, 18:28
Sure, the bellows is bigger and the glass is larger but why the HUGE differential remains to be answered? Workers get paid the same per hour, the warehouse paid by the 4x5 cameras, staff is already on hand, and the sales channels already opened - except for materials, the overhead is virtually the same. Having said this, i would imagine sales are 12:1. Thus ULF have to sit on the shelf longer before being sold and this costs more than a few schillings.

Yeah, I've never been able to figure out why a 600mm f1.2 lens doesn't cost the same as a 50mm f2.8 for my Nikon. Afterall, it's just a little more glass and plastic....:rolleyes:

I think Richard Ritter and Bruce Barlow did a pretty good job of explaining the HUGE differential.

Happy 2008,

Richard Kelham
3-Jan-2008, 15:58
I think Richard Ritter and Bruce Barlow did a pretty good job of explaining the HUGE differential.

Happy 2008,



Yup, plus the fact that, in volumetric terms, a 10x8 is sixteen times the size of a 5x4...!